A penetration test, or a pen test, is an attempt to evaluate the security of an IT framework by safely attempting to discover and exploit vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may exist in operating systems, services, and applications, improper setups, or high-risk end-user behavior. Such assessments help validate the effectiveness of security systems in addition to ensuring end-user adherence to security policies.
Penetration testing is typically performed using manual or automated technologies to methodically compromise servers, endpoints, web applications, wireless networks, network gadgets, smartphones, and various other possible factors of exposure.
Once vulnerabilities have been exploited on a certain system, testers might attempt to utilize the compromised system to launch succeeding exploits at other internal resources, particularly by trying to incrementally accomplish greater levels of security clearance and much deeper access to connected systems and information by means of privilege escalation.
There are basically three types of penetration testing methodologies that are being followed in the industry. They are discussed in the following sections.
Black box penetration testing
In black box penetration testing, the pentester does not have access to any internal information and is not approved for internal access to the client's applications or network. The pentester must do all reconnaissance to acquire the delicate understanding required to continue, which puts them in a function as close to the normal attacker as possible. This type of testing is the most reasonable, but it requires a lot of time and has the greatest potential to overlook a vulnerability that exists within the internal part of a network or application. A real-life attacker does not have any time restraints and can take months to create an attack plan, waiting for the appropriate chance.
Plus, there are lots of protective tools within networks to help stop an existing vulnerability from being exploited. Even the latest web browsers have settings that can prevent an attack, but the weak point in an application may still exist, and all that is called for to exploit the vulnerability is a variant of establishing or a connection from a different browser version. Just because a configuration avoids the vulnerability from being found or exploited does not always mean that the vulnerability does not exist or is actually being minimized; it just implies that some outside pressure is buffering the result. This can lead to an extremely dangerous end result and a false sense of security that may be exploited at a later time by someone who has much more time to explore the attack surface considerably.
Gray box penetration testing
An interaction that enables a greater level of access and raised internal understanding falls into the category of gray box testing. Fairly, a black box tester starts the interaction from a rigorous external viewpoint, attempting to get in, while a gray box tester has currently been provided some internal access and understanding that may come in the kind of lower-level access, application logic flow charts, or network maps. Gray box testing can replicate an attacker that has already passed through the perimeter and has some kind of internal access to the network.
Providing some type of history to the security consultants embarking on the assessment helps produce a much more efficient and streamlined test report. This minimizes the time (and money) invested in the reconnaissance phase, enabling the consultants to focus their initiatives on exploiting prospective vulnerabilities in higher-risk systems as opposed to attempting to discover where these systems might be discovered.
White box penetration testing
The last category of penetration testing is called white box testing, which permits the security consultant to have completely open access to applications and systems. This enables specialists to see the source code and has high-level privilege accounts to the network. White box aims to recognize prospective weak points in different locations such as logical vulnerabilities, prospective security exposures, security misconfigurations, poorly written development code, and lack-of-defensive procedures. This sort of assessment is extra extensive as both internal and outside vulnerabilities are assessed from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint that is not usually offered to typical attackers.
Penetration testing aids the security team in targeting certain aspects of a system to discover any kind of existing vulnerabilities and design imperfections. Any kind of pen testing involvement can be customized according to the client's requirements, preferences, and work situation.
At organization level, Penetration testing can help mitigate the risks of the threats that your company might face. Nonetheless, good security methods need to be adopted to secure your organization. By taking a risk-based method on cybersecurity, you will certainly address the prioritized threats and assess your company risk exposure constantly.
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